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Sandor "Alex" Kvassay papers and collection of Aviation Stamps

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 144

Scope and Contents

The Sandor “Alex” Kvassay papers and collection of Aviation Stamps (1870-2014; 12.40 cubic feet) document the history of aviation and flight through postage stamps, postmarks and envelopes collected from all over the world. The collection spans the 20th-century and the beginning of the 21st-century but includes examples of 19th century balloon airmail. The stamps are housed in 67 albums and total near 68,000 stamps, envelopes, postmarks and postcards. The collection was assembled over a period of 20 years, with many of the stamps purchased as new issues. The stamps in the collection are all related to aviation; airplanes, history of flight and significant anniversaries, airships, Zeppelin mail, famous aviators and events in world history.  Many of the stamps do not have dates. There are many thousands of mostly unused stamps and souvenir sheets. In addition to the United States, there are 20th century stamps and covers from Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Italy and Colonies, Spain and Colonies, France and Colonies, Netherlands and Colonies, and Portugal and Colonies. In addition there are thousands of stamps from Africa, South and Central America, Latin America, Asia including China, Japan and Korea. Finally there are thousands of stamps from Great Britain and former British Colonies, including Australia, Canada and Provinces, Bahamas, Bermuda, Cyprus and many others.  Other countries of the world are also well represented in the collection. Along with the stamp collection, there is a copy of Kvassay’s autobiography, “Alex in Wonderland: A life of high adventure from war-torn Europe to the world of aviation.” The book focuses on 3 aspects of his life; his Hungarian background and coming to the United States, 30 years selling American-manufactured business aircraft to overseas markets and lastly, his journeys during retirement. Other writings included are his featured stories, “Alex Remembers” published in Professional Pilot. Lastly, the papers contain a binder of clippings about Kvassay’s longtime friend, Neil Armstrong and correspondence exchanged between them via email in the early 2000s. The binder is restricted, due to third party privacy concerns. The papers and stamp collection are organized into two series:

Dates

  • 1870-2014
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1920-1990
  • Other: Date acquired: 10/07/2015

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. The collection is stored offsite; 24 hours notice is required to access the collection

Conditions Governing Use

Purdue University per deed of gift.

Biographical / Historical

Biography of Sandor “Alex” Kvassay and History of the Sandor “Alex” Kvassay papers and collection of Aviation Stamps Sandor “Alex” Kvassay came to the United States from Hungary in 1948, where he had finished studying law. He became a U.S. citizen through two years of service in the Army. He then went to Wichita for a job at Beech Aircraft before Lear Jet Corporation recruited him as vice president of international marketing. Alex Kvassay sold Beech and Learjet aircraft for 30 years, earning a reputation as the industry's premier international salesman of his day. Kvassay sold planes for Olive Ann Beech and Bill Lear to world leaders, business moguls and celebrities. He later became a partner with Duncan Aviation. During his 30 years of selling corporate aircraft around the world, Alex Kvassay crossed the Atlantic Ocean nearly 500 times and the Pacific more than 80 times. He retired in 1982 and continued to travel the world, including landing on the North and South poles. In early 2010, Murray Smith, owner/publisher/editor of Professional Pilot magazine, an old friend of Alex Kvassay asked Alex to write down his memories of more than 30 years of selling business aircraft internationally, so his collection of reflections could be enjoyed by Pro Pilot readers and his history of marketing private aircraft outside the United States could be preserved. Since May 2010 he has authored more than 35 individual stories, which have run monthly in Professional Pilot, under the title of “Alex Remembers”. Some of those stories appear in this collection. Kvassay had a 40 year friendship with Neil Armstrong. E-mails they had exchanged in the 2000s and clippings Kvassay had collected in regards to Armstrong’s life are also found in this collection.

Sources: Material in the papers, along with: http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Alex-Kvassay/12983292

Extent

12.40 Cubic Feet

12 cubic feet boxes and 1 mss box other_unmapped

Abstract

This collection is primarily comprised of aviation-related stamps and first day covers from around the world. The collection spans the 20th-century but includes examples of 19th century balloon airmail.  Just a few of the countries represented are Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Italy, North and South Korea, Great Britain, the United States, and Vietnam. Included are stamps from Africa, Asia, North, South and Central America, Australia, Antarctica, and many more places.  The collection relates to the history of flight, including balloons, Zeppelins, modern aircraft, and well-known aviators. Aviation and flight represented as political and cultural imagery is particularly prevalent in parts of this collection.

Arrangement Note

The papers and stamp collection are organized into two series:

Series 1. Aviation Stamps, circa 1870-2000s (12 cubic feet). The collection of worldwide stamps are housed in 67 albums and total near 68,000 stamps, envelopes, postmarks and postcards.  There are many thousands of mostly unused stamps and souvenir sheets. The stamps in the collection are all related to aviation; airplanes, history of flight and significant anniversaries, airships, Zeppelin mail, famous aviators and events in world history.  Some of the stamps feature, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, Amelia Earhart, the Wright Brothers, Charles De Gaulle, Charles Lindberg, Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11. Please refer to the finding aid for a detailed listing of countries of origination.

The stamps have been left in original order and in the original binders. Many of the stamps do not have dates. 

Series 2. Writings, Neil Armstrong Clippings & Correspondence, and Miscellaneous Items, 1995-2014 (0.4 cubic feet). This series consists of Sandor Kvassay’s autobiography, “Alex in Wonderland: A life of high adventure from war-torn Europe to the world of aviation,” along with stories written by him and featured in Professional Pilot. Another highlight of the series is a binder of clippings about Neil Armstrong, a longtime friend of Kvassay’s. There are also e-mails from the early 2000s in the binder that were sent between the two friends. Miscellaneous items consist of collector calendars from Kansas Aviation Museum and an undated tape, titled, “Lear Jet Country.”

Source of Acquisition

Donation by Sandor “Alex” Kvassay, July 22, 2014

Existence and Location of Originals

multi-part note content

Related Materials

Wagner Collection of Space Exploration and Moon Landings First day Covers: http://archives.lib.purdue.edu/repositories/2/resources/99

Collection on the 100th Anniversary of the First Official Airmail, first day cover, related stamps and souvenir booklet: http://archives.lib.purdue.edu/repositories/2/resources/1361

Neil A. Armstrong papers: http://archives.lib.purdue.edu/repositories/2/resources/1158

Processing Information

Original order of the stamps has been retained, and the stamps remain in the original binders.  Materials have been housed in polyester sleeves, acid-free folders, and acid-free boxes.
Title
Sandor "Alex" Kvassay papers and collection of Aviation Stamps
Status
In Progress
Author
Mary A. Sego, 2015
Date
02/12/2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
504 W. State Street
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States
765-494-2839